Home World How ASEAN is trying to resolve Myanmar’s worsening crisis | Military News | Al Jazeera

How ASEAN is trying to resolve Myanmar’s worsening crisis | Military News | Al Jazeera

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Southeast Asian leaders started the summit without Myanmar’s supreme general, Min Aung Lai, who was barred from attending the meeting because of “insufficient progress” in implementing the regional plan to end the country’s bloody political crisis.

Analysts said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations excluded Min Aung Lai, who initiated a coup d’état to overthrow Myanmar’s civilian government on February 1, as the “severeest sanctions” the group has imposed on member states since its establishment in 1967.

The organization is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and is known for non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.

Myanmar joined the group in 1997.

View shows the 38th ASEAN Summit held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on October 26, 2021 (Reuters)

The following is a timeline of major events in ASEAN-Myanmar contacts since this year’s coup:

ASEAN calls for restraint

On the day of the seizure of power, the United Nations and Western countries condemned the military, but ASEAN issued a more moderate statement calling for dialogue and “return to normalcy in accordance with the wishes and interests of the Burmese people.”

Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines have also adopted a more non-interfering attitude, describing developments as “internal affairs,” although Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia do express concerns about military takeovers.

A military coup in Myanmar A military coup in Myanmar (Al Jazeera)

As security forces began firing live ammunition on anti-coup demonstrators, ASEAN foreign ministers held talks with the Myanmar military on March 2. They issued a statement urging “all parties not to incite further violence in the country.”

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore also issued statements calling for the release of Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The 73-year-old was detained on the morning of the coup and was later charged with a series of criminal offences, including possession of an unlicensed walkie-talkie.

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Five points of consensus

On April 24, ASEAN leaders and Min Aung Lay held a special meeting and reached an agreement on a five-point plan to resolve the crisis in Myanmar. The “five-point consensus” includes ending the escalating violence, initiating talks between all parties, and appointing special envoys to promote dialogue.

ASEAN leaders express concern about violence in Myanmar (Al Jazeera)

China, Russia and the United States support the ASEAN plan

As Myanmar’s security forces stepped up their killings and opponents of the coup began to take up arms against the military, China, Russia, and the United States expressed support for ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts to end the escalating crisis.

On June 7, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Southeast Asian Foreign Ministers in Chongqing, China, and expressed China’s support for “ASEAN to play a constructive role in properly handling Myanmar’s domestic issues”. However, Wang Yi urged ASEAN to avoid “improper interference” in national affairs.

Russia is the main supplier of weapons and training for the Myanmar military. On July 6, Russia stated that ASEAN’s plan is “the basis for resolving the (Myanmar) crisis and restoring the situation to normal.” The United States also emphasized the central role of ASEAN in resolving the chaos in Myanmar on July 14. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken urged the European Union to “take immediate action” on the five-point consensus.

Uprising in Myanmar (Al Jazeera)

ASEAN appoints special envoy

After several months of no progress, ASEAN chose Eriwan Yusof, Brunei’s second foreign minister, as its special envoy. Myanmar accepted this choice, but reportedly prefers former Thai diplomats.

Indonesia stated that persuading Myanmar to make a commitment to the special envoy and the mediation process is an arduous process.

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The Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei, Eriwan Yusof, was selected as the special envoy of Myanmar (AP)

Myanmar prevents special envoy from meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi

On October 6, Eriwan accused Myanmar of doing nothing in ASEAN’s plan, and said that lack of progress “is tantamount to going backwards.” He also said that during his upcoming visit to the country, he had requested a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, but the military did not directly respond to his request.

A few days later, on October 13, a military spokesman stated that although Eriwan was free to visit Myanmar, he could not meet with Aung San Suu Kyi. The military defended the decision by saying that it was because Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi faced criminal charges.

Subsequently, Eriwan cancelled the visit.

The people of Myanmar are in a state of fear (Al Jazeera)

ASEAN bans Min Aung Lai from attending summit

On October 16, Brunei, which is the rotating chairman of ASEAN, issued a statement stating that ASEAN will invite a non-politician to participate in the annual summit. This move gave Min Anglai an unprecedented indifference.

The statement said, “Due to insufficient progress and concerns about Myanmar’s commitments, especially the consideration of constructive dialogue between relevant parties, some member states have suggested that ASEAN provide space for Myanmar to restore internal affairs and return to normalcy.”

Singapore stated that the move was “a difficult but necessary decision to maintain the credibility of ASEAN.”

The Myanmar military blamed the rare condemnation on “foreign interference” by the United States and the European Union, and stated that it has notified Brunei that it can only accept Min Aung Lai or ministerial-level representatives to participate in the summit.


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